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The Stranger Beside Me

The Shocking True Story of Serial Killer Ted Bundy
Written by: Ann Rule
Narrated by: Lorelei King
Length: 18 hrs and 29 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (96 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Ann Rule was working on the biggest story of her career, tracking the trail of victims left by a brutal serial killer. Little did this future best-selling author know that the savage slayer she was hunting was the young man she counted among her closest friends.

Everyone's picture of a natural winner, Ted Bundy was a bright, charming, and handsome man with a promising future as an attorney. But on January 24, 1989 Bundy was executed for the murders of three young women - and had confessed to taking the lives of at least thirty-five more women from coast to coast. Ann Rule, who kept in constant contact with Bundy throughout the investigation, tells his story as no other person can, capturing the essence of his magnetic power, unholy compulsion, and demonic double life.

Available for the first time on audio, this shocking true story is an unforgettable listening experience. In an emotional reading, Rule tells us about Ted Bundy - the man she thought she really knew...the stranger beside her.

©2008 Ann Rule (P)2012 Simon & Schuster

What the critics say

"As dramatic and chilling as a bedroom window shattering at midnight." ( The New York Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Can't get into Ann Rule

I didn't like this book. I couldn't even finish half of it. I tried her book on the GRK and my opinion of her was the same. I thought she would be more interesting writing about Ted, but that wasn't the case. I just find her writing to be boring and sloppy. If you didnt like the GRK book then i dont recommend this one, and vice versa. If you did like that one, then you probably like her style and should give this one a try.

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Terrifying but riveting read

I wasn't sold on this despite the critical acclaim. A lot of time has passed and I worried this was another case of someone fawning over Ted. But Rule writes this in a manner we can all relate to. We have all made the mistake of befriending the wrong person, someone who is toxic. But luckily for (most) of us that person didn't turn out to be a serial killer. Rule does a great job of showing how difficult it was for her to navigate her friendship while her suspicions grew. It's well researched with a lot of input from victims and doesn't make everything all about Ted. it's very human. I am so glad she did an update, but I was sad to read about the circumstances surrounding her death.

Def worth a listen

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Amazing book!!!!

This book was captivating from
The moment i opened it.....such an in-depth view with heartbreaking detail...didn’t want it to end....the narration was well done...annoying at time when she would impersonate a male voice with an accent but great great book!!!!!

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Solid True Crime

This book was a good piece of true crime literature, told from the perspective of a casual friend of Ted Bundy. I think the author did a great job describing the tension between reconciling the man she knew with the man capable of such violence.

I do wish there had been more emotional exposition of various characters - particularly the law enforcement on the hunt. The author worked closely with them, and so often they were relegated to overly simplified quotations as “we took the search to the ground” or “we were stumped”.

But maybe I’m being overly critical and asking for what this book was not - I just wanted more from the world! Ann rule seems like a great author and I’m sure I’ll try another if her true crime novels, if just to see what her writing is like on a less personal narrative.

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Well-researched, insightful

Ask anyone for a recommendation on a book about Ted Bundy, and this is the novel you'll be pointed to. It was fantastically researched and clear on the facts, without being boring. However, the mix of quotations and (obvious) use of direct source material demonstrates Rule's past as an author focused primarily on articles for magazines. But, I believe with a true crime novel such as this, that becomes necessary, and actually adds to the story, giving you the full picture. The writing wasn't fantastic, but it conveyed the story and facts wells. This edition included several updates from the original 1980 publication, that were vital to understanding the entire picture of Ted Bundy's trial, confessions and execution. I am very grateful for the addition.

However, I should note, I was a little exasperated with Ann Rule. While it is extremely interesting that she personally knew Ted Bundy before he was ever a murder suspect, and signed a book deal to write about the serial murderer who would end up being Ted, I believe she inflated both her self-importance, and Ted's.

My last listen before this was very well-narrated, and the shock of switching to this audiobook was disheartening. The narrator sounds robotic and choppy- very similar to the voice on your GPS. Luckily, the story pulled me in, and I was able to adjust to this style so I did not miss out on The Stranger Beside Me. However, several minutes in, I was ready to turn this off and not look back, often laughing at how detached the narration was. If you told me the entire this was typed into a "text-to-speech" app, I would absolutely have believed you. However, the narration was clear and crisp, and you do get used to it.

Critiquing each part individually, the narration was poor and the writing was not the best, by any means; but reflecting back, I very much enjoyed this listen and was impressed as a whole.

I think the part of this novel that most solidified how impressed I was by it, was when I found I had giggled to myself at one of the direct quotations from a letter from Ted. For the novel to express him as the whole man, including all of his horrendous deeds and the lives he has ended and ruined, and still for me to momentarily understand his allure and instantly be chilled by it was the perfect effect that summed up The Stranger Beside Me.

As a side note: I'm sure at this point, almost the entire world has watched the Ted Bundy documentary on Netflix. I went back after listening to The Stranger Beside Me, and found that it barely scratched the surface of what was included in this novel, and was considerably less intriguing (although it was interesting to see the visuals that went along with Rule's descriptions).

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Loved every minutes of The Stranger Beside Me

Well written, well narrated, enjoyed that book very much. The chapters followed each other to keep the reader captivated.

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  • Malia
  • LONG BRANCH, NJ, United States
  • 2012-08-24

Another Good One from Ann Rule

This is my 3rd Ann Rule book, 1st being Dead By Sunset, and 2nd: Green River, Running Red. I say this one was "good". It's clear, like other reviewers have said, that this was her first book, but the relationship between her and Ted make for a more interesting story than had she not known the main character of what was to be her first book. I didn't find her vacillating feelings for Ted annoying, like some other reviewers did, nor did I think she exaggerated the extent of her relationship with Ted. I think it was all pretty appropriate.
There is definitely something lacking with this story, which I can't put my finger on, but I'd recommend it to an Ann Rule fan or someone looking to learn more about Ted Bundy and his crimes.

36 of 38 people found this review helpful

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  • Big jim Picotto
  • Great White North
  • 2015-04-16

Brutal story, great storytelling

I had no idea that Ann Rule knew Ted Bundy. I found that she came awfully close to injecting herself a little too much into the story. But she backed away enough to tell a very entertaining but frightening tale of this monster. It is a shame she didn't get a chance to interview him prior to his execution, but a good tale nonetheless. Worth the credit.

32 of 36 people found this review helpful

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  • BVerité
  • LA, United States
  • 2013-10-22

Wow!! A really amazing book!

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. That's putting it mildly. I was entranced by it! I like true crime books, but I stay away from subjects that are too gruesome and scary, like the murders of Ted Bundy.
I worried this book would give me nightmares. However, Ann Rule does not fill her book with gory details. Instead Ann tells the shocking and fascinating story of life in the years of his murders and trials, and of her relationship and correspondence with him. The book is updated to reflect all the changes in his legal situation.

There is a lot of heart in this book. Ann Rule writes it with such compassion and true emotion. It's incredibly well written!! I can't say that enough. Instead of coming away with nightmares, I was able to view the horror and tragedy of Ted Bundy from an unusual and fascinating perspective. Rule stays away from the sensationalism that you might expect from a "serial killer" expose. She has written an unbelievably compelling story. It was really interesting to read (hear) her shifting of thoughts and emotions regarding Bundy and his crimes, as she battled with the realization that he may have used her just like he used the other women in his life. Oh it is just a really good book.

I highly recommend this. It is a book that will stay in my thoughts for a long time to come. And I will continue to read Ann Rule. This isn't my first if her books, but I think this is her best that I've read so far!!

Great Narration.

33 of 38 people found this review helpful

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  • Peggy
  • Washington, DC, United States
  • 2013-12-02

Creepy

The author tricked me into believing that Ted Bundy was a handsome, clever, ordinary guy--just as he tricked her. If we believe Ann Rule, it was long after capture and late in the judicial process that she saw the truth about the guy she had once worked with. And that's what makes the whole thing really creepy.

24 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Johnson
  • 2014-06-24

Interesting and Real

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

YES YES YES. If the topic interests you this is a first hand experience written by someone who know Ted Bundy. Well written and should I add written with the neutrality of a professional. great book

What other book might you compare The Stranger Beside Me to and why?

none

What does Lorelei King bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She was easy to listen to and presented the story perfectly with the right innuendos

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

definitely

Any additional comments?

get it you won't regret

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • FMF Corpsman
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 2013-07-26

Factual Account

Rule produced the best of the Ted Bundy books. She was the one of those who, initially, thought that there had been a ghastly mistake. It was fascinating to watch as she came to the realization that the trusted companion, from a crisis center, was a monster. Rule held her emotions in check, when It must have made her skin crawl to remember her experiences. This book was the making of her career. It is the First but not the Last word on the Bundy Case. It does whet the appetite to read more.

22 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Theresa
  • 2013-07-06

Troubling account of a psychopath

Any additional comments?

I bought this book because it was mentioned several times in the book "Without a Conscience" by Robert D. Hare. While I found the story of Ted Bundy interesting, the effect he had on Ann Rule was as chilling as his murders.
Hour after hour I listened to the book waiting for the realization that Ann would finally come to about what a monster Ted Bundy was, but it never came.
Ann Rule, calmly and with almost the same callousness that Ted Bundy displayed in his life, reports on his murders and yet, she Ann, still talks about him as if her were a favored lover.
I can certainly understand protecting and supporting your friend until it is proven he is a monster, but at some point common decency should make you cringe in horror with the rest of the population at these atrocities.
This book makes the point of Dr Hare's book even more evident. When you deal with a psychopathic personality you can be taken in to the point of no return. The Stranger Beside Me" is the embodiment of that.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • aaron
  • los angeles, CA, United States
  • 2012-03-27

More Like a Police Report than a Vibrant Story!

This book is unique in the sense that the author was actually close friends with Bundy, and you can feel the need she has to defend him permeating the pages. She presents the details of his killings in a cold, detached way that comes across as somewhat boring. She manages to convey the sense of how each murder/victim was different, but she does it in a way that feels like you're reading some kid's book report. It's just not that colorful.

I like some of Rule's other books, but this one doesn't do Bundy justice. For a criminal as charismatic and manipulative as he was, his story deserved to be told with more excitement and horror. In fairness to Rule, this was her first successful book, so I'm sure she's been improving as a writer with each subsequent book.

The 3 hour epilogue is helpful, in that it brings us up to the point that Bundy is finally executed... I doubt that's a spoiler for anyone. If it is, sorry.

The narrator was great. I've read reviews of the abridged version that says that narrator was horrible. This one is spot on.

Overall, if you're interested in Bundy, this is the book for you, NOT the abridged version. You'll certainly have a clear understanding of just how monstrous this man actually was.

35 of 44 people found this review helpful

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  • farmhouselady
  • 2012-12-04

The true-crime Master has done it again.

Any additional comments?

Ann Rule sets the standard for true-crime books. I have yet to discover another author that comes close. If it is by Ann Rule, you know you are getting the very best, and you will be sucked in and taken away into another universe.

She does meticulous research the reader benefits from, and she adds a depth to the telling of the facts that comes from very deep understanding of her topic. Over decades of focusing on true crime, she has perfected the art of telling these stories like no one ever has.

This work is unique in that Ann actually knew the serial killer personally, had worked with him and maintained ties of friendship with him even after his trouble with the law began. So she had more than a bird's eye view, more than police records and media articles. That aspect - her own emotional involvement - adds another layer of interest but does not get in the way of her strict discipline in relating the facts and unfolding the story, to her credit.

There's no way you can go wrong with this book. Treat yourself.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • 9S
  • 2012-05-10

Good but with reservations

Unfortunately, Ann Rule stumbles with The Stranger Beside Me, by claiming to be an intimate friend of Ted Bundy. She transforms the short, erratic time she worked with the man into a close relationship. Yet, despite herculean efforts, nothing more than a casual acquaintanceship is described. Also, Rule frequently repeats that she was highly regarded by law enforcement agencies, thus attempting to validate her own self-importance. Furthermore, Rule is enamored with Bundy, often mentioning how sophisticated and gentlemanly he was. Eventually listeners will tire of the lavish praise heaped on one of histories most prolific killers.

However, interspersed with the leaps of fantasy are outstanding snippets of the gruesome horrors perpetrated by Ted Bundy. Of course, Rule does a superb job of describing his descent into murderous madness. To begin with, we see an intelligent, polite young man. But, gradually a portrait emerges of a monster. In addition, the notorious killer was suspected of abducting and killing eight year old Ann Marie Burr, in 1961. She is thought to have been Bundy's first victim, with the murder being perpetrated when he was only 14. Lorelei King delivers an effortless performance as she recounts Bundy's childhood, the murders he committed, his capture, imprisonment and trial. All things considered, it would be remiss to imply that this is less than an engaging account of the infamous serial killer.

37 of 48 people found this review helpful